Dec 5 2019

Thanks go to those attending the Climate Challenge Showcase on November 7!!

City staff was so impressed by the high turnout, and by the palpable excitement you showed to reduce our greenhouse gas footprint. Every day on this job reminds us all what a special community we serve, and the community’s dedication was especially apparent on November 7.

On that note, the City set a very ambitious goal for the Challenge – 200 households signed up in six months – but Piedmonters have gone above and beyond again. Residents have already met the goal, just a month and a half into the Challenge. Congratulations!!

With support, the City has decided to take even more ambitious action. We are increasing the goal to 300 households by March. If you have friends or neighbors who have not yet joined the Challenge, please tell them about it and encourage them to join!

We are also turning our attention to emissions reduction. We’re asking residents to reduce emissions by 450 tons of CO2 by March 2020. This will be a tough goal to meet, even considering the amazing work being done to reduce emissions. The City is here to help – Assistant Planner Mira Hahn and I are at City Hall (120 Vista Avenue), ready to brainstorm ideas, and we will be sending out tips to reduce emissions once a month between now and March.

In the end, though, it will be up to all of you to meet this tough goal. Luckily, Piedmonters are an incredibly dedicated and conscientious lot – we have full faith that you will rise to this challenge and greatly reduce Piedmont’s emissions, to secure a better future for coming generations.

Why Join?

Go to >

Let’s give this everything we’ve got.


Justin Szasz

CivicSpark Climate Fellow, City of Piedmont

Phone: (510) 420-3085 for more information.

Dec 5 2019

On Wednesday, November 18th, I went to my first Recreation Commission meeting. I am a student at Piedmont High School and I had to do something that contributed to government in some way for my Civics Class. I honestly thought it was going be pretty boring, but I was happily surprised.

The Recreation Commission meets once a month. They deal with all matters pertaining to public recreation, including parks, playgrounds,etc.  More specifically, they deal with maintaining and creating areas in Piedmont. In the meeting I attended, they talked about Pickleball and maintenance of Coaches Field. 

Two of my Friends, my brother and I left for the meeting and arrived at 8:00 PM. We took the seats in the back and waited for the members of the commission to get started. There were 7 commissioners and 5 other people who attended the meeting. The commission was led by Steve Roland.  He directed the meeting.

It started off with Jackson Sterns talking about sports programs struggling to get kids involved. Dick Carter, a commissioner, mentioned the poor conditions of Witter Field, specifically the turf, which is poorly maintained.

The main meeting topic was a discussion of Pickleball. One of the people attending the meeting complained about there not being enough time to play because of the lights turning off too quickly. He also talked about how Pickleball and tennis players were getting along pretty well. Pickleball has exploded and become very popular.

During this time, we decided to go up and speak. My friend, Holden, spoke about water polo. My brother, Pierce St.Claire, Georgie Brayer, and I talked about the conditions of Witter Field. All of us have played sports and used Witter Field extensively during our time in the Piedmont School system. The field is clearly overdue for serious maintenance.

It was super fun talking and attending the meeting. I enjoyed the various subjects and learning about the growth of PickleBall.

While we were able to communicate our concerns about Witter Field, We didn’t realize that it was actually a School Board issue, not under the jurisdiction of the Recreation Commission. Even though we didn’t go about it conventionally, the commission was happy that we attended and they were really respectful to our blunder.

I found the experience to be very educational.  I learned a lot about public meetings and forums and I am very glad to have attended!

Robert St.Claire, Piedmont High School Senior

Dec 2 2019

Council relents and removes the language change in the  proposed Special Municipal Parcel Tax Ordinance to be voted on at the March 3, 2020, Primary Election.

On December 2, 2019, Piedmont’s contract City Attorney, Michelle Marchetta Kenyon, continued to maintain her opinion that the proposed language change was not substantive.  Her opinion was disagreed with by many in Piedmont.

Vice Mayor Teddy King noted her concern over changing the language if the result was the same, for it added voter confusion. She stated many residents had stated the change from INCLUDING  to MAY INCLUDE was substantive.

Speakers Hedi Gerken, Kathleen Quenneville, and Liane Campodonico agreed with King, that the language should not be changed, while voicing it would be a substantive change allowing services to be dropped by the Council.  The Council had also received opposition to the language change by  emails, letters, and comments.

Council member Betsy Andersen, an attorney, stated she had proposed the change to clarify language, but withdrew her proposal upon believing flexible options would be available, and there would be no guarantee of funding for the named services.  

Questions were raised as to whether or not the 9 listed service items would be funded, if funds were available.  The answer appeared unclear. Some had  assumed that the parcel tax funds were delineated as a funding source for specific services; however, it has been Council practice during their May budget sessions to pool funds rather than specifically assigning the parcel taxes to specific services. During the budget sessions, the Council makes a determination on whether or not the parcel tax needs to be levied to support city services.

Services named in the ordinance are:

  • police and fire protection,
  • street maintenance,
  • building regulations,
  • library services,
  • recreation,
  • parks maintenance,
  • planning and public works
  • and similar services.

The Special Election for the parcel tax will held on March 3, 2020. Mayor Bob McBain and Council member Jennifer Cavenaugh will write the supporting arguments in the “Voter Information Guide.”  

Opposition arguments for the “Voter Information Guide” are due to the City Clerk on December 13, 2019, with rebuttals due on December 20, 2019.  For specific information contact the City Clerk, John Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Click > Notice of Election – 2020 Special Municipal – Measure for official ballot language and election protocols.

Dec 2 2019

Dec. 2, 2019

Piedmont City Council
c/o John Tulloch
re: Dec 2 Parcel Tax Agenda Item
Dear Mayor McBain and Council,
         The Parcel Tax is commonly understood and accepted by Piedmont taxpayers to be for essential City services as follows: police, fire, street maintenance, building regulations, library, recreation, parks maintenance, planning, and public works. Your proposed language change allows the parcel tax to be used for any purpose and not limited to the traditional nine essential City services.  I object to this and ask that the original tax language passed by voters in 2016 be continued.
         The reality is that virtually all Piedmont residents will not read the full text of the tax and then compare it to the 75 word ballot question for discrepancies.  Residents mostly rely on the ballot question and Proponent material.  If the Council elects to retain the altered wording that allows the parcel tax to be not limited to essential City Services, the ballot question must clearly state that the parcel tax is no longer limited to essential City services as is commonly understood.
 Rick Schiller
 Piedmont Resident and Property Owner
Dec 1 2019

“Agenda Insight” to be presented before December 2, 2019 City Council meeting:

Item 3, the first item on tonight’s regular agenda, is the second reading of Ordinance 746 N.S. to renew the Municipal Services special Tax for 4 years effective July 1, 2021, and to place this before voters in a special election on March 3,2020, consolidated with the California Presidential Primary on that date….

Although most aspects of this renewal reflect no change, there is a word change that appears to have an impact. The wording of the present parcel tax says, “If in any fiscal year the City Council shall determine that municipal services INCLUDING but not limited to…” and then it names 9 services which must be included in general fund expenditures, with support from the parcel tax if other city income isn’t sufficient to cover them.

At the first reading of this ordinance, last meeting, that language was changed to, “municipal services which MAY INCLUDE but are not limited to..” and then lists the same 9 services. The staff report calls this a non-substantive change, but many people read it as a very substantive change because it gives Council the flexibility to remove any service from this list. The 9 services are police, fire, street maintenance, building regulations, library, recreation, parks maintenance, planning, and public works.

If the Council wants to put this on the March ballot, they must pass the second reading tonight because they are up against a deadline for submitting the final ballot language to the Registrar of Voters…..

Item 4 is consideration of a resolution approving procedural details for the Special Election of March 3… Of particular interest to voters, this item also sets the 75 word ballot question to read, “Shall Ordinance 746 N.S. which maintains essential police, fire, and paramedic services, prevents the reduction in maintenance of City parks, greenspaces and other public areas, and prevents the loss of recreational and other public services, by renewing the City of Piedmont’s expiring parcel tax for four years… be adopted?”

….Interestingly enough, this ballot language is almost the same language we voted on in 2016, so all 9 services were not mentioned last time around either. However, in both 2016 and 2020, it is the language of the resolution we are voting on, not the 75-word summary, and the language of the resolution has changed.

Ann Chandler, Piedmont Resident

Nov 29 2019

Proposed Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax has key language changes allowing elimination of services previously funded by the Piedmont parcel tax. Some have called the parcel tax proposal a “blank check.”

The Piedmont City Council in haste is expected at their, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, 7:30 p.m. meeting  to approve the second and final reading of Ord. 746N.S. which will place a renewal of the Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax, effective July 1, 2021, before the voters at a Special Municipal Election consolidated with the upcoming Presidential Primary Election on March 3, 2020. 

On November 18, 2019, the City Council approved a first reading of Ord. 746N.S.  At that meeting, the Council, according to the staff report, made what is called a “non-substantive” amendment to the language of Section 20B.2.on the first page of the ordinance.  Vice Mayor Teddy King objected to changing the existing language of the parcel tax proposal which states how the funds are to be spent. However, the rest of the Council and the City Attorney indicated the new language is not significantly different.

Apparently, the councilmembers and the City Attorney did not realize the language change no longer stipulates required uses of the parcel tax funds. For, the language changes from “including, but not limited to” to  “which MAY include, but are not limited to” were viewed by councilmembers as “essentially the same.”  

Voter concern has consequently arisen regarding the proposed new parcel tax language pointing to the change as considerable and  substantive in stating: “which may includeing,” rather than the current word “including.”

The newly proposed change to the parcel tax language would no longer require the Council to use the parcel tax money for the longstanding list of services and permits the Council to eliminate parcel tax funding for:

  • police and fire protection,
  • street maintenance,
  • building regulations,
  • library services,
  • recreation,
  • parks maintenance,
  • planning and public works
  • and similar services.

Some have stated the language change gives the Council a “blank check” by allowing the deletion of previously supported parcel tax funding for the named services.

The amended parcel tax language is indicated below in context. Deleted text is in strike through and new text is in italics.

“If in any fiscal year commencing on or after July 1, 2021, the City Council shall determine that municipal services, which may includeing, but are not limited to, police and fire protection, street maintenance, building regulations, library services, recreation, parks maintenance, planning and public works and similar services, are necessary for the public good, welfare and safety, and that the cost of making available such services will exceed the amount of funds generated through other revenue and income of the City for such services, then it may levy a special tax for such fiscal year on each parcel of real property within the City in a manner provided herein.”

READ the agenda HERE.

READ the three staff reports* on the tax proposal below:

*Editors Note: The newly revised  City of Piedmont website has become more difficult for Piedmonters to access information on specific agenda issues. Example, the subjects of the staff report no longer appear in the links. Only a file number is provided.

Nov 24 2019

League of Women Voters of Piedmont Holiday Luncheon Fundraiser

Guest Speaker Louise Renne

Effecting Change: The Role of a Public Lawyer

Friday, December 6, 2019

11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Piedmont Community Hall

711 Highland Ave, Piedmont CA


In this highly charged moment for the Bay Area and the country, we are honored to welcome Louise Renne, lawyer, former Supervisor and one-time City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, California. Renne was California Deputy Attorney General for 11 years. She served in the environmental and criminal divisions, and argued on behalf of the state before the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Renne heads the Renne Public Law Group which advises and advocates for public agencies, nonprofits, individuals, and private entities in need of effective and creative legal solutions. She leads the firm’s public litigation practice. Currently, she is working on cases involving opioid abuse and e-cigarette dangers for youth.

Louise Renne is known for transforming the traditionally defense-oriented practice of municipal law by creating an affirmative litigation program that won significant victories for cities and counties in California. As a nationally recognized and respected leader in municipal law, she often testifies before federal, state, and other governmental bodies. She is also frequently requested to conduct impartial investigations for local public agencies in high-profile cases.

The presentation, including Q&A, begins at 11:00am, followed by lunch at 12:00 pm.

Speaker and lunch is $35. To reserve your spot, visit, and click the Holiday Luncheon RSVP link. Payment via credit card, debit card or PayPal is accepted.

Please RVSP by December 2, 2019

Editors Note: PCA and the League of Women Voters – Piedmont are separate organizations.  Both are open to all interested persons. 

Nov 19 2019

The November 18, 2019, Council meeting went on for hours as numerous residents appealed to the Council to reject the proposed wireless sites.  At the beginning of the meeting, speakers were surprised by Mayor Robert McBain’s declaration limiting speakers to 2 minutes rather than the standard 3 minutes forcing last minute rewrites of prepared statements. 

Opponents noted serious health concerns, destruction of views, harm to Piedmont  aesthetics, loss in property values, lack of demonstrated need for the proposed sites, improper surveys, need to wait for court resolution of pending lawsuits relevant to Piedmont, and incomplete application information. 

Although pleas and great concerns were expressed by neighbors living near the Crown Castle proposed wireless installations sites, the Council unanimously approved all the proposed sites while adding new conditions for their approval.

A potential ongoing lawsuit with Crown Castle weighed heavily on Council members decision who saw better ways to spend Piedmont funds than legally challenging the large corporation.  Some Council members extensively questioned the proposals and were concerned by the many communications the Council received opposing the sites.

Led by Piedmont’s contract attorneys and the Piedmont Planning staff,  the Council was convinced to approve the sites based on compliance with Piedmont laws, despite the Planning Commission’s vote recommending denial of the proposals.

Since the sites are essentially  governed by the Federal Communication Commission, state laws, and are a part of the public utility system, the Council feared the next proposal could be less advantageous than the current proposal.

The Council predicted that numerous future proposals are virtually guaranteed with 50 sites in other areas of Piedmont. Driving the installation of the wireless communication systems, is the notion that landline communications will soon be replaced by cellular service, even though during emergencies landlines have been essential.

After three years of debate and discussion, the disappointed opponents left the Council Chambers indicating they did not feel that the City Council was standing up for Piedmont’s greater good.

1 Comment »
Nov 17 2019

The agenda for the November Recreation Commission meeting is focused on the Tennis Court Use for Pickleball. Residents are invited to attend the meeting in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue at 7:30 p.m.

Recreation Commission Agenda Wednesday, November 20

  1. Approval of Minutes–October 16, 2019
  2. Chair’s Report
  3. Director’s Report
  4. Review of Maintenance Practices on City Sports Fields
  5. Receipt of a Report from the Subcommittee on Tennis Court Use and Pickleball and Consideration of a Recommendation to the City Council on Next Steps

READ PICKLEBALL REPORT, PRIOR MINUTES AND AGENDA : > November Recreation Commission Meeting

Nov 17 2019

Maybe the Piedmont Police Department Has Them?

 The Piedmont Police Department has a box where all those lost keys are collected. The Police Department collects and keeps them for up to 6 months.  So if you have recently misplaced your keys, you can contact the police or drop by to see if they have ever been turned in.

Contact dispatch 510-420-3000.